When Barack Obama cast aside decades of U.S. policy and opened up Cuba to America’s diplomats, the press backed him loudly and enthusiastically. But when those same diplomats our government sent abroad returned with traumatic brain injuries and permanent hearing loss from a sonic attack by the Cuban government, there was barely a peep.
What happened to the deal’s enthusiastic backers? Where are the columns? And will anyone ask the president who sent them?
“The decision is likely to reverberate across many political frontiers where the standoff between Washington and Havana has played a role — including across much of Latin America, where U.S. policy on Cuba has long been a source of friction” reported The Washington Post on the heels of President Obama’s announcement to reestablish diplomacy with Cuba “dismantling the last pillar of the Cold War” in December of 2014.
The Times attributing the friction to U.S. policy alone is disingenuous at best, considering Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet Union and the installation of nuclear missile sites during the Cold War. Cuba also supported communist militant groups in working against American interests Central America, among various human rights violations.
Only two small paragraphs of The Post’s lengthy report were dedicated to quoting Senators that opposed reopening diplomacy before concluding “[b]ut Democrats generally, and some Republicans, applauded the moves.”
On August 11 2017, reports surfaced that “American diplomats in Havana were getting sick with headaches, dizziness and hearing loss” in what the Trump administration has labeled “health attacks.” “Several Americans cut their tours in Cuba short after falling ill last year” reports The Times, getting sick in 2016, to which the American government responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats in May.
To date, at least 16 American diplomats in Havana became ill last year according to The New York Times. The Attacks, possibly caused by a sonic wave machine, seemingly began last December, but American officials didn’t begin to see a pattern until months later.
Some diplomats are left with mild traumatic brain injuries, and two with permanent hearing loss.
“It took some time for people to be able to determine that, yes, there is a pattern taking place here. Yes, there is something going on,” said Heather Nauert, the State Department’s spokeswoman according to The Times. ““We take this situation extremely seriously.”
The coverage of the attacks on American diplomats do not question Obama’s culpability in aggressively pursuing the reopening of diplomacy with Cuba, described by his Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew as intended to “accelerate constructive change and unlock greater economic opportunity for Cubans and Americans.”
“U.S. To Restore Full Relations With Cuba, Erasing The Last Trace Of Cold War Hostility” read a Times headline, in December 2014 implying that contemporary hostilities are a Cold War relic, and the Castro regimes oppressive policies and subjugation of the Cuban people aren’t sufficient to flood the country with American dollars. The article claimed the policy will “sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War.”
Like The Post, The Times’ lengthy report dedicated few words to Republican arguments in opposition of the plan. [V]ery, very bad deal,” said Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in response to the then President Obama’s announcement. “It is a fallacy that Cuba will reform just because the American president believes that if he extends his hand in peace, that the Castro brothers suddenly will unclench their fists,” said Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
“Ultimately, Congress will need to lift the trade embargo, a failed policy” wrote the editorial board of The Times in July 2015. Sure the embargo hasn’t removed the Castro’s from power, but presumably hasn’t failed to prevent bolstering the communist regime’s power as a result of trade with the U.S.
The trade restrictions lifted by the Obama administration had the nasty side effect of giving state run retailers and markets an opportunity to capitalize on American and European tourists that demand higher quality goods and services, shifting the limited supply of resources away from natives to foreigners helping to fund the regime.
These factors, coupled with the knowledge of attacks on American Diplomats in Cuba, may have led President Trump to decide to pull back the Obama administrations easing of trade and travel restrictions in June. Per the President’s decision The Times editorial board accused him of engaging in a “crusade” to overturn “crucial elements” of his predecessor’s legacy. They referred to the policy reversal as “cynical,” and having “a historically bogus foundation.”
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